I am tired of reading about edreform in the news focusing on failing schools, merit pay, test scores, school of choice, bad teachers, etc. It is time that politicians and “reformers” recognize the huge elephant in the room of education reform-poverty.
|by Shavar Ross|
First go read Mel Riddile’s excellent post about poverty’s effects on PISA Here is evidence that all of our schools are not failing, but the real problem in this country is poverty. Our best schools compare favorably with the top countries of the world. (By the way I personally could care less about these test scores, but since everyone else uses them to make points-here you go).
Next University of Texas psychologists release a study about poverty and genetic potential. Summarized they found that 50% of the progress of wealthy children can be attributed to genetics. No, they are not smarter than poor children, but they reach their genetic potential because of extra resources and opportunities. Children of poverty do not reach their potential.
Finally a New York Times piece by Charles Blow states that
According to the National Center for Children in Poverty,
42 percent of American children live in low-income homes
and about a fifth live in poverty. It gets worse. The number
of children living in poverty has risen 33 percent since 2000.
For perspective, the child population of the country over all
increased by only about 3 percent over that time. And,
according to a 2007 Unicef report on child poverty, the U.S.
ranked last among 24 wealthy countries.
My thoughts are that this is not any new information. We know that socio-economic is the most important factor for school success. We know that our poor schools in rural and urban areas are the schools with the most students who struggle and drop out. Of course we need to take every means necessary to improve these schools.
But lets stop dogging public education non-stop in the media. Let’s stop portraying teachers as lazy and worthless. Let’s stop acting like the entire system is broken when we have thousands of successful schools and millions of successful students. Let’s stop treating public education as both the cause and solution of our economic problems.
I for one am appalled that 1 in 5 children in this country live in poverty. 1 in 5! It is an embarrassment that we have the highest poverty rate of developed nations. I will not pretend to have all of the answers to end poverty, but let’s acknowledge it as the real problem of inequity in this country.
Let’s fix that problem and quit blaming public schools and teachers.
Hat tip to Bill Ferriter for the Charles Blow link.